In a season of sheerness and lingerie, casual and military, a woman who likes a trouser suit in her wardrobe might as well be cast out into the wilderness—if it weren't for Junya Watanabe. His collection was wholly about menswear for women—tailored jacket, slim pants, and shirting explored in a rigorous way that deftly sidestepped the dread image of the career pantsuit. Sometimes, Japanese designers are thought of as marginal: This felt more like the capturing of a market.
Watanabe's models, with their towering, twisted head wraps, walked on flat, pointy lace-ups with a brisk dignity (no tricky footwear to negotiate, no fuss with accessories, no danger of wardrobe malfunction). The show began with a midnight blue jacket and narrow trousers in tonic silk and proceeded through dozens of variations in menswear checks with the obsessive logic Watanabe brings to every collection.
The steady processing of his theme drew the eye to the detail: the hip darts that made jackets jut slightly in front; the way he occasionally switched the grain of fabric to cut a narrow trouser on the bias. Moving on to pristine white shirtdresses over black leggings, Watanabe also added femininity and drape to the mix, eventually transposing the black-and-white graphics of checks into a riff on geometrics, including a couple of brilliant shirred, checkered synthetic tissue body pieces with a frill in the hem. The genius of the collection was that, for all of the hip experimentation, it was fully tooled as pragmatic daywear—avant-garde, but completely utilitarian.